Cincinnati’s toughest games are going to be in the conference this year, which gives the Bearcats a real shot at an undefeated season.
With only three power-five conferences participating in fall sports in 2020, a group of five team might finally get a college football playoff appearance.
If Cincinnati can go undefeated and win their conference, which is absolutely possible, they might get a shot at lifting the trophy.
But they have to take care of the games on their schedule first.
There is no Ohio State this year, which is good news for the Bearcats. They have two non-conference games: Austin Peay and Army. Cincinnati should be heavily favored in both.
So Cincinnati’s toughest games in 2020 are going to be in the conference.
While Cincinnati is one of two ranked AAC teams in the current A.P. Poll, they aren’t going to steamroll everyone they meet. There will be some tough games that they will have to grind out victories, and several games with conference–and possibly even playoff–implications.
Cincinnati’s Toughest Games in 2020
@SMU, October 24th
SMU is just outside of the Top 25, and probably will be ranked by the time this game rolls around.
Cincinnati plays three straight home games, has a bye, then hits the road for Tulsa. The SMU game will be the second game in a row where the Bearcats travel west.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Shane Buechele is coming off a season where he was just shy of 4,000 passing yards and 34 passing touchdowns. The Mustangs will be replacing their top two running backs and top wide receiver but will be returning senior tight end Kylen Granson.
vs. Memphis, October 31st
The Memphis Tigers are another team that will move into the Top-25 when the AP eliminates Big 10 and Pac 12 teams.
Memphis, like SMU, will be looking for their experienced quarterback to offset some major losses. Brady White led the AAC in just about every passing statistic there was last season.
White played Cincinnati in twice last season in back-to-back weeks and didn’t play particularly well. In both games, he was 33-for-66 (which is exactly 50 percent), with 486 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. His passer rating of 101.4 in the AAC Championship Game was his lowest of the season.
But even with the losses Memphis has suffered, they still present one of the toughest challenges on Cincinnati’s schedule.
If Cincinnati makes it the championship again this year, odds are they will either play SMU or Memphis.
@ UCF, November 21st
This game will probably decide who represents the East division in the AAC Championship Game.
Right now, UCF is ranked 21st, right behind Cincinnati. It took a narrow victory at home to secure the game for the Bearcats. If the result had been reversed, it would have been UCF squaring off against Memphis in the conference championship game.
The Golden Knights are returning Dillon Gabriel, the sophomore quarterback who took over in 2019. They are also returning top running back Otis Anderson, two of the top three receivers Marlon Williams and Tre Nixon, all of whom are seniors. Bentavious Thompson and Greg McCrae each rushed for over 500 yards last season, and are returning as well.
Between the top three running backs and the top two receivers, they collectively had 443 touches, 3,860 total yards, and 36 touchdowns.
This group of five players outgained eight FBS teams and outscored 24.
All of this is to say that UCF is bringing a lot of talent back from last year. This game against Cincinnati is going to be a tough one.